My Love of Learning
Updated: May 4
My primary gig these days is acting in TV, movies, and commercials. In my former life, however, I taught English and social studies to 8th, 9th, and 10th graders. Teaching gave me a couple legs up when I transitioned to acting - I had a pretty low bar set for my annual income, and there was nothing this business could throw at me that could compare to middle school bus duty.
There are times I miss teaching, but I can’t imagine doing anything besides what I’m doing now. Making a career change mid-stream, though, was never my plan. It was really an accident - a function of timing and luck. In the fall I coached football, in the winter wrestling, and in the spring I’d take a class at the nearby university. Something for myself, usually a writing workshop. Just when my wife happened to be finishing graduate school, I took my first voice-over class. Loved it.
Our plan had been to move to a city closer to my wife’s family when she got her degree, so I resigned from my school district. Just for fun, I started looking on Craigslist for voice-over work. You know, to see what was out there. Well, one thing lead to another, as they say, and I found myself working as an actor not just in voice-over but also on camera in commercials and TV and film and not looking for another teaching position.
To say I was scared to make the leap from the security of a teaching job to the utter uncertainty of life as an actor would be an understatement. But I was motivated to become a part of the pop culture I'd felt I'd been competing with as a teacher. I mean, I did my best to make Oedipus and the parts of speech and westward expansion exciting and engaging, but most of my students found professional athletes, rappers, and movie stars more important.
See, I got into teaching to make a difference. I’d always loved learning, and reading and writing and history, and I wanted to share that love with my students. I also knew what I was teaching was important for them. So they didn’t quite agree with me that learning about post-Civil War reconstruction was more important than the latest developments in the NBA. If I couldn’t lick ‘em, I figured I join ‘em. When I decided to make a go at acting, I was committed to bringing along that desire to reach kids and to share my love of learning.